Selective mutism in children with and without an autism spectrum disorder: The role of sensory avoidance in mediating symptoms of social anxiety
The present study addressed the different contributors to social anxiety in children with Selective Mutism (SM), with and without co-occurring Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) (SM + ASD). Seventy-five parents completed an online composite questionnaire consisting of the symptoms of SM and ASD, anxiety and sensory measures. The results found the SM + ASD group showed significantly higher levels of social anxiety and sensory avoidance compared to the SM only group. However, a simple mediation model revealed sensory avoidance to be a mediator of this relationship between the diagnosis and social anxiety. Therefore, higher levels of sensory avoidance may help to differentiate social anxiety between the groups and may also be a sign of ASD in children with SM who have and/or are yet to receive an ASD diagnosis.